Chicken wings are beloved by Southerners, and I am no exception. For the last few years, my local go-to was Jamal’s, a literal shack near the Georgia Dome that has since moved to 2001 Martin Luther King Junior Drive. Their wings are small and manageable—not to mention super crispy and loaded up with plenty of lemon pepper or buffalo sauce. But a recent trip to historic downtown Norcross changed the game.
Chase’s Grille and Wingery, which opened two years ago in the old Cotton Gin space, has quietly been making the best chicken wings I’ve had in recent memory. And the owner, Chase D’Anella, is an extremely friendly guy. Most of his creations—such as the creamy, sharp pimento cheese—are family recipes. A bowl of the easily spreadable cheese is served surrounded by perfect, two-bite orbs of soft pretzel. Another appetizer, cheesy, gooey “Buffalo muffins” filled with shredded chicken and topped with D’Anella’s signature wing sauce, tastes like a comfort food creation spun from childhood memories.
A lack of storage space in the small restaurant means D’Anella deals in freshness. He hand-cuts the chicken wings, which gives him more control over the amount of meat on each wing—no jagged edges or dry ends here. Ask for your wings crispy and you shall receive, but be patient—they’re fried to order. Chase serves 17 flavors of wings and makes all of his own sauces. The classic Buffalo tastes tangy, spicy, and bright thanks to being made fresh (and with a hefty amount of butter). The lemon pepper is sour, but still salty and peppery enough to encrust the crunchy bits of skin on the chicken wings. My only gripe was the accompanying dry carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing, which could have used more chunks of cheese and little more oomph in general.
The restaurant also serves up a mean Philly cheesesteak, a crispy pressed French roll filled with grilled, thin-sliced ribeye, creamy melted white cheese, sweet yellow onions, and basil. It comes with French fries you can have tossed in lemon pepper, ranch, cajun, or Buffalo seasoning. (Tip: The tangy ranch has a similar flavor to Cool Ranch Doritos.) D’Anella’s mother, “Ms. Audra,” lends her Southern/Cajun influence to the restaurant, which means there are two po’boys on the menu and fresh beignets served on the weekends. They also serve a special Cotton Gin Burger on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, which I was told are in limited supply.
The restaurant prides itself being a warm family establishment, and it shows. The interior has a very DIY feel, and it’s a comfortable place to hang out with a craft beer and go to town on the best wings in the Atlanta area. 125 Lawrenceville Street Northwest #400, Norcross, 770-449-0229